British actress Emily Blunt follows in the footsteps of leading ladies such as Helen Mirren and Judi Dench by portraying the Queen in The Young Victoria. This time around, however, we get to see a playful and flirtatious side of the monarch, as the film covers the period from Victoria’s coronation to the meeting of her future husband, Prince Albert (played by Kiera Knightley’s beau, Rupert Friend).
FLARE caught up with the Golden Globe winning actress at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival to discuss her latest role.
The film was produced by Sarah Ferguson, The Duchess of York. Did you have any consultations with her prior to filming?
I actually never spoke to her. She came up with the initial idea and she pretty much let us do it. She just said, ‘I don’t really know very much about making films, you guys do.’
What was it like working with Rupert Friend?
We instantly got along. We started laughing as soon as we met and we didn’t stop.
How did the costumes enhance your performance?
I found [them] transporting up until the point when my ribs [gave] out on me. Then I wanted my pajamas.
What type of research did you for this role?
I read books, biographies, and her diaries. She would write so emotionally and passionately in her diaries in a very revealing way. I really got to know her through reading that.”
What similarities can you draw between Victoria’s life and your own? Do you feel like your celebrity status imprisons you in any way?
No, I don’t feel I’m imprisoned. I feel like I have a very free and independent life. Victoria was so closeted. [But] I think it does happen. I think that some people get hounded by the press to the point where it’s pretty impossible to go out and buy some milk. I certainly wouldn’t want that to be my life and it isn’t.
What do you think Victoria learned about men from Albert?
When she met Albert, she met someone who would love her selflessly.
What do you think Albert learned about women from Victoria?
They’re a nightmare! They’re a pain in the ass.
Do you think Queen Victoria is a timeless icon, someone who would strike a chord with younger audiences?
I think the younger Victoria would, but I think people’s perception of her is similar to what mine was when I first started researching—it’s like the photos we have with the old lady with the hanky on her head looking sour-faced and miserable. And I think people thought she was all about sexual repression. But, when she was younger, she was the polar opposite.